Is There Really A Problem With Parabens?
Although preservatives like parabens are necessary to make cosmetics safe for use on your skin, these days they get more buzz not for the good they do, but for the alleged harm they cause. But do parabens deserve their bad reputation?
Chemical vs Natural
If you're conscientious about the products you use on your body, you've probably heard that certain common ingredients can be harmful, even cancer-causing. It's often said that natural ingredients are always good, and synthetic ingredients are generally harmful. But what's often said is not always correct. When it comes to preservatives and parabens, there's a lot of misinformation out there.
The truth is, "natural" doesn't inherently mean safe and "chemical" doesn't necessarily mean dangerous. In fact, parabens are naturally occurring chemicals. Yet many natural skin-care brands claim that parabens are dangerous ingredients, when in reality parabens are naturally produced by vegetables and fruits such as soy, beans, flax, cherries, blueberries, carrots, and cucumbers. These foods actually produce parabens to a much greater degree than the tiny amounts of parabens used in skin care products.
Preservatives like parabens keep your cleansers and moisturizers from being overrun by bacteria, mold, and fungus. Ironically, "natural" brands often resort to using more synthetic preservatives to avoid using parabens—a contradiction to their own marketing!
A Paraben's Bad Rep
In a misunderstanding of a 2004 research study, parabens were mistakenly linked to breast cancer when their metabolites (not parabens themselves) were detected in breast cancer tissue samples. The media quickly took the story and ran with it, and despite evidence to the contrary, media reports and forwarded emails continue to spread the claim that parabens are linked to estrogenic activity.
The American Cancer Society & the FDA have both concluded, based on studies, that the scientific and medical research does not suggest that the use of parabens in cosmetics can increase the risk of developing breast cancer. Parabens, especially in the small amounts used in typical skincare products, don't pose a significant health risk.
Instead, research has exhaustively demonstrated that parabens are broken down -- fully metabolized before they enter the blood stream -- and excreted harmlessly by the body.
The More You Know
Despite the media frenzy surrounding parabens, the published research and global cosmetic regulatory organizations agree: There's no legitimate reason for consumers to avoid products containing parabens. So the next time you hear the suggestion that parabens are unsafe, think twice. Believe the facts instead of the hype: The minuscule amount of parabens in your prosthetic skin care products won't cause you harm.
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